​The 2015 Eagles of Excellence Award goes to...    

      Renee WAGNER  was born in Germany; her father was presumed dead at the end of World War II. Times were really hard after the war, but the family did their best to survive during this difficult period.

During that post war time Renee received her first lesson in giving to the community, at the tender age of 8, when her Mom would give her last bit of hard-earned money to the church.  Renee would ask, ‘how will we survive?’ Her Mom would always answer ‘somehow we will survive’ and they did.

A wonderful man named Peter, who was a survivor of 3 years of German concentrations camps, came into their lives and helped them.  He eventually married Renee’s Mom, and Renee always wondered how a concentration camp survivor could marry a German woman with two German children, another big lesson in giving.

The family immigrated to the US and settled in Baltimore when she was sixteen.  Renee spoke no English; a teacher and great man gave of his own time, took Renee under his wing and taught her to write, read and speak English; yet another fine lesson in giving.

Renee married Mark Wagner and had two children, Angela and Atticus, and three step-children, Barbara, Laura and Eric.  The family moved to Laguna Hills forty-one years ago. Renee became a small business owner. 

Renee’s son Atticus wanted to play football at the age of eight, and as a typical parent she began complaining about the football league.  Atticus’s coach told her ‘lady put your money where your mouth is’ and so Renee joined the Board of Saddleback Pop Warner Football, where she was the president for six years.  She gave many hours to that League and dealt with thirteen teams of Football Players and thirteen teams of cheerleaders.

Her husband Mark, with many volunteers, built a Snack Bar and Equipment Building on the league’s home field.  Naturally, Renee brought food to the volunteers.

Nineteen years ago Renee lost her husband and soul-mate, Mark, to cancer. She moved to Big Bear Lake, where she bought a home and the Barnstorm Restaurant at the airport in Big Bear City.   Fourteen years ago she was asked to join Rotary Club of Big Bear Lake.  There she learned the true meaning of Service above Self. Renee has served on the Rotary Board as Treasurer.  She has given tirelessly of her time and, of course catered  unlimited delicious food service for  unlimited  Rotary events, as well as many other community events.

Renee has served on the Doves Board. She also served as Treasurer of the Arts Council of Big Bear Valley.

Renee’s favorite day of the year is when Santa & Mrs. Claus fly into the Airport and the Barnstorm Restaurant to visit the children. She has held that event for eight years.  Renee  hosts the families of the Doves Shelter.

Renee caters food or gives Gift Certificates for many events at no charge, including several Rotary events, Man About Town, Friends of the Big Bear Library, Big Bear High School and many others too numerous to name.  She also hosts a yearly fundraiser, which is a Cancer Survivor Dinner, for the City of Hope.

When money runs scarce, Renee quotes her Mom ‘somehow we will survive.’

The Big Bear Valley community and the Barnstorm’s employees of the last seventeen years, have given her so much.  Renee’s motto is “My thing is food, and we must give back to our community.”

Renee would like to thank her Rotary friends for not only teaching her what Service Above Self means, but also bestowing her with this great honor.